You likely own an AR or tactical-looking rifle. Your hunting partner has one. Most of your gun-club buddies also have a tactical rifle. The black gun fad may have run its trendy course, but don’t count tactical rifles out yet as a great tool to excite new shooters and upcoming predator hunters. Have you considered one for the youth hunter hiding in your shadows?

I’m not advocating an AR-style firearm as a first firearm. An AR requires some maturity and responsibility, plus an understanding of the semiautomatic operation. Companies like Bergara USA and many others offer bolt actions in tactical, black formats if semi-auto isn’t your thing.

Before you shop in the black-gun aisle, start your shooter off with a single-shot .22LR, like the small-framed Crickett (www.crickett.com). It’s a pint-sized firearm for small frames that fits the bill for a first gun over a tactical version. But let’s not kid ourselves. After a few years of shooting a plinker, youth shooters look at your AR like you salivate over a military-style Humvee as your main predator-hunting rig.

Here’s five reasons that an AR rifle is perfect for youth.

  • Most tactical rifles either come or can be equipped with collapsible stocks to adjust length of pull for smaller-frame shooters.
  • The average AR weighs between 6 and 7 pounds. Many tactical bolt actions also fall into the 6-pound category. That’s light enough for youth to handle, yet heavy enough to absorb recoil.
  • ARs and tactical bolt actions come in a variety of calibers, but the popular military caliber of 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington is readily available and ammunition is affordable6.
  • Black rifles provide the perfect platform for plinking, varmint and predator hunting.
  • If you want to use a black rifle for deer hunting, consider the .308, 300 BLK or .300 Whisper for close-range hunts less than 200 yards. Purchase a new AR upper and you’re ready for big game or shop for one of dozens of .308 tactical rifles.

Tactical rifles are not just for the military anymore and could be the lure you need to get your youngsters hooked on predator hunting for a lifetime.